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April 23, 2012 02:27 AM UTC

EPA to Denver: "Happy Earth Day, Here's 350 Grand."

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  • by: Colorado Pols

It’s Earth Day, Denver! If today’s heat hasn’t been reason enough to celebrate, the Environmental Protection Agency’s $350K grant for the South Platte River Corridor restoration should do the job nicely.

From the EPA:

Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood among several benefitting from EPA funds

(Denver, Colorado – April 20, 2012) At an event today at Denver’s Shoemaker Plaza, Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, joined Mayor Michael B. Hancock, to announce $350K in EPA funding for efforts to restore and revitalize the South Platte River corridor. The EPA funds will be used by the City and The Greenway Foundation for several projects, including extensive riverfront restoration and water quality improvement at the Denver Housing Authority’s redevelopment project in the Sun Valley neighborhood.

“Today we announce investments that will increase access to a clean and healthy South Platte River,” said Stoner. “This EPA funding will help extend the vitality that we see along Lower Downtown’s riverfront to neighborhoods that still struggle with economic and environmental challenges. Together with the City and partners like The Greenway Foundation, EPA is making sure that a new generation of families can enjoy the South Platte River.”

The EPA funding includes $262,500 for riverfront restoration and green infrastructure along the South Platte River near Sun Valley, which borders the west side of the river between Sports Authority Field at Mile High and 6th Avenue. Funds will also help improve river access and recreational opportunities at Johnson-Habitat Park near Santa Fe Drive. These projects will advance two of the top five River Vision Implementation Plan projects identified by the City of Denver and the non-profit Greenway Foundation.

“Thanks to EPA’s tremendous financial support, we can continue our efforts to revitalize the South Platte River and Sun Valley Neighborhood,” said Mayor Michael Hancock. “It is these types of partnerships that will help us achieve our mission to improve the sustainability of River Corridor and deliver a world-class city where everyone matters.”

Sun Valley, one of the few Denver communities located directly on the South Platte River, includes a Denver Housing Authority affordable housing community that will be redesigned in a similar manner to the new South Lincoln/Mariposa project at 10th and Osage. EPA funding will be used by Denver Parks and Recreation and The Greenway Foundation for wetland and riverfront restoration, river access and water quality improvements, and environmental education, including a nature trail. These projects will complement redevelopment along the new light rail corridor, the construction of a new riverfront park, and additional projects to restore habitat and wetlands along Weir Gulch, which enters the South Platte in Sun Valley.

“The Environmental Protection Agency has been a valued and engaged partner with The Greenway Foundation for over 35 years,” said Jeff Shoemaker, Executive Director of The Greenway Foundation. “This latest grant for additional water quality and riparian improvements to Denver’s South Platte River will allow our City’s greatest natural resource to become an even healthier and more vibrant urban waterway.”

Improvements to Johnson-Habitat Park, an innovative urban camp and river recreation area near Interstate 25 and Santa Fe Drive, will create a camping area and enhance public access to the River. These improvements will be made in coordination with Denver Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Forest Service’s Children’s Forest project.

EPA is also providing $75,000 to the City of Denver to enhance Brownfields planning efforts that are restoring blighted properties along the River. An additional $12,500 will help the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District and the City take steps to improve water quality and recreational opportunities in the River North area between 31st and 38th Streets.

This is an incredible get for Denver, particularly given shrinking municipal budgets. Still, it probably would’ve been better to host this particular press conference on Thursday the 19th instead of Friday, April 20th — “weed day” is probably the worst time of the year to host a press conference featuring a woman named Nancy Stoner, after all.  

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